Monday, November 7, 2011

Random updates

Coming up is a bit of randomness that has occurred since the last time I posted. First off, I saw a surgeon almost 2 weeks ago regarding my knee. I'be been pretty much pain free for awhile now, and was thinking that I wouldn't need surgery. Well, the meeting with the surgeon confirmed this, and I have the green light to keep on biking as much as I can and avoid going under the knife for now.

I've been getting out for as much riding as I can lately. Since I missed a good chunk of the summer, I'm not burnt out on riding and pretty excited to get out whenever I can. I got out for a loop of the park 2 weeks ago with my buddy Karl, who was rocking a vintage bike and some cool retro Look shoes. We thought that we could do a full loop, including the north loop, which has been closed all summer. We saw other cyclists coming from the other direction, and figured it was rideable. However, we ended up doing too much hike a biking for my liking (especially in road shoes) and decided that the north loop would not be worth it in the future. It ended up being close to 3 hours of riding for me, and I felt great. No knee pain, and endurance was fine.

A shot of the Jock river along one of my usual loops.

Karl's vintage Bianchi.

The view from Champlain lookout.

Nice retro kicks.

On a beer tip, I'm constantly trying new beers, but I've been lazy when it comes to taking pics of them and taking notes. Here are a couple I've tried recently:

An Ontario beer out of Bramptom. This is a tasty, easy drinking lager. Mellow hop flavour...not as hoppy as the can would suggest, though.

Beau's "Dunkel Buck", a strong (6.8%) dark wheat beer. This was a limited run from Beau's. This had a nice fruity, chocolatey aroma, with a sweet chocolate flavour that wasn't too intense. Hopefully they produce this one again, but with any of their wild oats beers (limited run), once they're gone, they're gone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Ottawa Brewery...Broadhead

This is essentially a link to the Great Canadian Beer Blog, but a new brewery has opened up in Ottawa, Broadhead Brewing. It's on the way to my sister's place in Barrhaven, so I think I'll be dropping by when they get their growlers in. Can't wait!

Monday, October 24, 2011

New cross bike

Yeah, yeah, it's been "awhile" since I've posted anything. I'm not gonna make any excuses or bore you with non biking details of my life. But, on the biking tip, I got out this past Saturday for a ride on my new cross bike. It's an Opus Stelle that I picked up waaaaaaaaay back in June, just before my injury. So for 3 months, I've had a brand new bike hanging up in the basement, just begging to be ridden. Saturday, I mounted some 28c slicks and then mounted the bike for a quick ride. I was hoping that this bike would reduce road chatter compared to my previous cross bike due to the addition of carbon seatstays. Overall, the ride quality isn't as smooth as say, my road bike, and marginally better than my previous full aluminum cross bike. The other key selling point(s) for me was the parts spec. If I find myself not completely happy with the frame, I can see myself sometime in the future upgrading to a different frame and fork, and keeping all of the components. Upgrades compared to my previous cross bike are:

NEW BIKE                                      OLD BIKE
Aluminum with carbon seatstays     Full aluminum frame
Ultegra Drivetrain                          105 drivetrain
FSA Team Issue Carbon Crank         FSA Gossamer alloy crank
Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels          Mavic Aksium wheels
TRP Euro-x brakes                         Tektro brakes
Vittoria Cross XG folding tires         Vittoria Cross XG wire bead tires
Selle Italia SL saddle                       Selle Italia ????? saddle

Opus Spark, good while I had it.

Opus Stelle. Pretty sweet upgrades. Got rid of the pizza platter behind the cassette. Not sure how much this bike weighs, but using the good ol' lift it up and bounce it in my hands technique, it's a hell of a lot lighter than the Spark

My first ever carbon crank....pimp!

White wheelset, also pimp!

Monday, September 5, 2011

2012 Trekworld

I've been meaning to get these pictures up for awhile now...they're pics that Sonia took when she went to Madison, Wisconsin, for "Trekworld", a dealer show for, you guessed it, Trek bikes. There was a pretty cool surprise when she arrived at the show...just a few pros from the Leopard-Trek team!! Enjoy.

 Jens Voigt and Fabian Cancellera, signing posters.

 Cancellera's bike.

 Sonia, looking like she's gonna take off with Cancellera's bike.

One day I'll be pro enough to get my own personalized tires....yeah right!

 Sonia, pretty excited to be getting an Andy Schleck autographed poster.

 Sonia's co-worker Dave...containing his excitement.

 Andy's bike.

 Frank's bike. Not sure who the foot belongs to, though.

 These are the actual bikes used in the Tour de France, complete with scuff marks on the crank.

Sonia and Gary Fisher.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2012 Cannondale

Blogging has been sporadic as of late...I just haven't been biking much, and since this is a blog about biking (and yes, beer), there's not much to write about. Now that my knee is better (pain free and full range of motion, but not full strength yet), I can now start catching up on projects around the house (painting, re-doing some floors, exterior work, etc, etc..). Sooooo, I have to live vicariously through others, but it seems that a lot of my fellow bloggers have also reduced their blogging activity. That leaves me to get excited about biking through my wife.

Working in a bike shop, she has the perk of viewing next year's bikes before the general public. 4 weeks ago, she was flown down to Utah to view next year's Cannondale bikes, leaving Lil' D and myself to fend for ourselves. It all went down at Deer Valley resort, outside of Park City (about an hour from Salt Lake City).

Mountains surrounding Salt Lake City Airport.

 Deer Valley Resort.
These retailer shows consist of presentations, seminars and of course, bike demos. Sonia signed up for two demos, both of them on mountain bikes. The only road demos were for Cannondale Super Six's, and she didn't feel like trying to keep up full on Type A roadies.

Day 1 demo she tried a Jekyll, their"over-mountain" bike, featuring 150mm travel front and rear. One of the cool things with this bike is the ability to switch between fully open rear travel and a semi open mode of 90mm travel. As soon as she started riding there was only one way to go...up. With the bike in 90mm, it climbed amazingly well. Coming back down the hill, she kept the bike in 90mm mode and found it to be surprisingly nimble.

2012 Jekylls.

Scalpel 100 29er. 

Day 2, she got to try the eye candy bike of next year's lineup (and a new bike), the scalpel 100 29er. Full carbon frame, 100mm of travel and a spec that would leave anyone drooling. For this ride, she decided to take the chairlift up the hill (cheater!) and boot on down on some nice, twisty, turny singletrack. Being a 26 mtb rider, her impression of the scalpel was much like anyone else trying a 29er for the first time...rolls over obstacles no problem, is fast rolling, but is slow to accelerate. When she did encounter any rough terrain, she noted that the suspension handled like her 120mm 26" bike. For herself, Sonia thinks she would stick to a 26er due to the stop and go nature of trails like Outback or some of the technical trails at Camp Fortune.

View from the top of the resort.

View of Salt Lake and salt flats.

The ultimate bike light????? The first red flag is that you're ordering this out of a catalog on an airplane!

Sonia did pick up for me some all important hardware.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the mail

Getting stuff in the mail rocks.  A little over a week ago, I got some goodies in my mailbox.

Wouter Weylendt tribute t-shirt from Stomach of Anger.

Issue #5 of Peloton mag. This issue has a French theme to coincide with the tour...I got it 2 days before the Tour ended, but it's still a stellar issue.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The verdict is in

Saw the sports med doc yesterday for my MRI results, and it turns out that I have a torn medial meniscus. The solution there is of course, surgery. A scope to go in and "clean it up", so to speak.

My tear is on the medial meniscus, the side identified by the "bucket tear" above.

The doc also told me that some of the cartilage on my femur where it articulates with the patella, is compromised. They won't know to what degree it's compromised until the surgery. Worst case scenario, there's a "pothole" where there should be cartilage, and a procedure called a micro-fracture would be performed.

After a look at this pic, I hope I don't have to undergo a microfracture...pretty archaic looking.

So there ya have it. I have to get back in shape, though...I've lost a lot of muscle mass in my left leg over the last month. The good news is is that I've been on the trainer, and hope to get out for a ride this weekend. I have the green light to bike, but running is questionable until I've regained 90% of strength in my left leg compared to the right. So that probably means no cross this year. Besides, I don't want to re-aggravate my knee. The other bad news is I won't get to use my new cross bike. HUH??? New bike, you ask???? Stay tuned.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Belated Canada Day

The other day I was in the good ol' LCBO, and came across this:

The Canada Day edition of Innis and Gunn. Brewed once a year, I always find this to be better than the original, which is a damn good beer in its own right. I'm gonna save this one for a cool fall evening. Track one down before they're gone.

Today I got on a bike for the first time in a month. It was however only the trainer, and ended up being 25 minutes (which is better than the 15 minutes I had anticipated). I rode with the resistance on the lowest setting, except for when I did some right leg one leg intervals. My knee felt a little stiff at first, but once I warmed up it felt pretty good. There's still a little swelling in my knee, but no pain, and almost full range of motion. I wanted to make sure that at the least I was pain free before trying any kind of biking. If my knee stays happy with me tomorrow, then I'll just keep on plugging away, a little bit every day on the trainer...I need to work off all this beer that I've been drinking!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Injury update

So, it's been over 3 weeks now since I've been on a bike of any kind. In the meantime, since my last "injury update", the swelling in my leg has gone down, but there's still a lot of swelling within the knee joint itself.  The swelling is limiting range of motion in my knee, so I don't have full extension or flexion. Pain comes and goes, and I sometimes hobble around with a cane. Not much can be done from a physio standpoint until the swelling goes down, so I'm kind of shit out of luck until things calm down.
I did get in to see a sports med doc last Monday who reckons I have either a torn meniscus or osteochondritis (torn cartilage). The only way to know for sure is by having an MRI, which I had done today. The funny thing about the whole MRI experience is that they give you headphones to block out noise because the MRI machine is really loud. The technician asked me if I wanted to listen to the radio, or nothing at all, so I said I'd listen to the radio. She then asked me what station I wanted to listen to, so I said Live 88.5 or CBC. When I put the headphones on, it was tuned to 89.9, so I was stuck, for about 15 minutes, listening to Brittany Spears, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas. Lovely.
Hopefully I don't have to wait too much longer to find out the results of the MRI, 'cause I'm going nuts not being able to bike, or doing anything at all, for that matter. The family and I did get away to Tremblant for a few days last week for a bit of chillin', though, so that provided some mental relief. I'm back to work this week, which I'm sort of looking forward to...I'll be out of the house and moving around a bit more.

Mini vacation with the family at Tremblant.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Giro Code shoes

For mountain biking this year, I was in desperate need of a new pair of shoes. For the past two seasons I'd been using a pair of Time MXE's, a three strap model with a carbon sole. I was never really happy with the fit of these shoes...I had to throw extra insoles inside to take up space. Also, the upper material was a weird plastic that didn't take to the shape of my foot very well.
Earlier this Spring when I was trying to pick a new pair of shoes for the year, I tried on various models from Bontrager, Sidi, Mavic and Giro. I won't bore you with minute details of the fit of the different brands (besides, your feet are probably a different shape from mine), but in the end, I decided to go with Giro, a newcomer to the shoe game.
They offer two MTB models, The Gauge and the higher end Code. I decided to go with the Code, despite going against a few beliefs I have about mountain bike shoes:
1) I don't believe in having a buckle/ratchet on MTB shoes; to me it's a part that could get damaged or get clogged with dirt and mud and cease to work
2) I've never had a MTB shoe with a super stiff sole. I've always believed that a bit of flex is a good thing, especially if you end up off the bike and have to walk a bit.
3) I try not to buy expensive MTB shoes since they'll get trashed within a couple of seasons and need replacing.
Before getting injured, I got in 5 rides wearing these shoes. With respect to those 3 points above:
1) no issues yet with the buckle...I like being able to cinch the top strap down nice and tight, and it's less velcro to get clogged with dirt.
2) The stiff sole rocks. I can feel the difference it makes when standing up to pedal...instant power transfer. As far as lack of comfort or too stiff when hiking, no issues noted
3) Overall, they are worth the extra coin. They are one of the best fitting shoes I have worn...comparable to my other favourite fitting shoes, Specialized. There are no pressure points, and the upper conforms to my foot perfectly.

Some other features are pointed out below in the picture captions:

The middle strap loops through the D-ring on top of the middle of the foot, which takes pressure off the instep.

One of the buckles has gotten a little scuffed up. If it gets damaged, the buckles are easily replaced.

The sole is made from Easton EC 90 carbon, their top tier carbon. The lugs are soft, giving nice grip on rocks for dismounts or dabs. My only worry is that they might wear out prematurely due to being too soft. Guess I just have to stay clipped in as much as possible. The carbon sole also contributes to these shoes being ridiculously light.
The sole has taken some dings, but the tough ass carbon is standing up to it.

The code comes with an insole with adjustable arch height. 

All I can say about these shoes so far is that they rock. Hopfully I get to use them sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm spending my time with "BRIE", Beer, Rest, Ice and Elevation.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DVD's and books: Life Cycles

What to do, what to do. The other day I decided to torture myself by watching a bike movie, Life Cycles. The first time I watched it was back in the winter, and at that time, I had no idea what to expect. The cover has a weird artsy-fartsy picture and the description on the back cover states "it tells a spectacular story of the bike, from its creation to its eventual demise."  Hmmm, sounds a little pretentious to me. Well, lets pop it in and have a look. The opening scenes are shot in the Devinci factory and give a first hand visual account of a bike being built. It then segways to scenes of downtown Vancouver, and then the action eventually makes its way to some trail riding. Now the riding is pretty cool to watch, but it's the cinematography that makes this a must see movie. It's hard to do this movie any justice in a little written blurb, and since I don't consider myself to be a movie reviewer in any capacity, anything I say won't shed light on how amazing this movie is.
You really do have to see it to believe it. The camera angles, the time lapses used, everything in this movie makes you say "Wow". The riding covers the trail to freeriding end of the mountain bike spectrum, but even skinny shaved leg dude (like myself) can appreciate the balls it takes to pull of the airs, tricks and speed of the riding in the movie.
The only downside of the movie is the length, about 45 minutes...I wanted to see more riding. But the bonus features, which show how the movie was made make up for the short length.

Also, as I've been bumming around the house, and killing time online, I was checking out Competitive Cyclist, and I ended up ordering some books. They were all on sale, so I decided why the hell not. It was such a good deal that I couldn't pass it up. They are Le Metier by Michael Barry, The Rouleur 2010 photo annual, and The Peloton by Timm Kolln.

I'm most eager to check out the book by Timm Kolln. The premise behind the book is pretty cool. Over the course of three years, Kolln took portraits of pro riders immediately following races. As you can imagine (and see on The Rouleur website), there are some pretty ragged looking pros after racing hundreds of kilometres. After the pics were taken, Kolln presented them to the riders (usually months later), and then had them write a narrative to accompany the photo. Reviews will eventually come once I have the books in my hands.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fun times at the hospital

The title of the post is supposed to be read with a bit of sarcasm. Hospitals are never fun, unless you enjoy waiting around in a room plastered with "aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated" signs and being greeted by overworked/overstressed nurses who are on the brink of aggressive behaviour themselves. The last time I was in a hospital was when Lil' D was born. Labour is not fun, and Sonia will tell you that childbirth was not fun (more specifically, she described as "being ripped in half", definitely not MY idea of fun). But the end result was positive. experience that is not fun, or enjoyable, but has a positive outcome. Anyhow, I digress.

The injury saga continues. I went to work on Monday, and despite having crutches to keep weight off my leg, it was still effin' sore, and the swelling got worse. The swelling was pooling around my ankle, to the point that it looked about twice the size of the right. I finished my day at work, got my leg up, and then started to feel like crap. Swelling was worse, and I was feeling feverish...not good. Sooooo, off to the hospital again to go hang out in the emergency ward. I was equipped with a water bottle, snacks and the bike snob book to keep me going for the long haul. When I was finally seen by a doctor, blood tests and x-rays were ordered up. X-ray came back negative, good. Blood tests however, showed an elevated white blood cell count AND positive for blood clot. SHIT. NOT. GOOD. The doc did go on to say that a blood test positive for clots does not necessarily mean that there IS a blood clot, but they have to do an ultrasound to rule it out. Another test they ran was poking my knee with a needle and extracting fluid to rule out an infection. After drawing out the fluid, he noted that it wasn't "pus-y and septic looking", (love the diagnoses), so that was a good thing.

 Monday night. Check out the difference in size between the left and right ankles.

 The left knee is just "a little" swollen compared to the right. The band-aid is covering the site where the doc extracted fluid from the joint cavity.

Tuesday morning, back to the hospital for the ultrasound. After getting my whole left leg lubed up with gel, the tech started the ultrasound. After 15 to 20 minutes of investigating, another tech and then the radiologist, there was no sign of a blood clot (thank god), but there was definite trauma to the medial gastrocnemius (inner part of the calf). They decided I had a calf strain (what I figured out on my own Saturday), and ordered more rest, ice, elevation and advil.

So here I am at home, bored out of my skull, and I start my summer holidays this Friday. Good news is I have time off for rehab. Bad news is I'm spending my holidays doing rehab.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


For the second time this year, I'm injured. And for the second time this year, I'm missing out on racing because I'm injured. Here's how things went down.

Last Tuesday, I met up with my team for Summer Solstice for a ride at Kanata Lakes. Temps were good and it was a little muddy on account of the previous day's rain. Riding was otherwise no different than it normally is...a few dabs here and there, but no real crazy spills that I can recall.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning, and my left knee has swollen up like an orange (well, maybe not that bad, but my knee lacked the bony cadaver like appearance it normally has). As the day went on, the pain in my knee, under the kneecap and behind my knee, got worse. At home, ice, elevation and Advil were the name of the game.

Thursday. Knee is still swollen and sore, had to skip my usual Thursday morning bike ride. As the day went on, swelling and stiffness, especially behind the knee, got worse. At home, ice, elevation and Advil...again.

Friday. All of a sudden now, my calf is now really sore and tender and swollen like a grapefruit. I'd say my right calf is about orange-ish size, so in comparison my left calf was like a grapefruit, a weird oblong oval grapefruit. Not good.

Saturday. Swelling has not gone down, and I'm worried. A trip to hospital indicates no infection in the joint and no sign of a blood clot. The doctor tells me I have an "angry knee" and to rest it up.
Once home, I started thinking....maybe I have a calf strain on account of the pain in my calf and the tightness in the back of my knee. Lets see, can I do a heel raise on my left leg...nope! Can I push forcefully with my left foot...nope. Can I even contract my calf...not really. That gets me thinking that I have a grade 2 calf strain, which isn't quite a full rupture, but will probably have me out of action for 5 to 8 weeks....shitty. As it is right now, I'm limping around and can't put a lot of weight on my left leg.

So, as for the races I'm missing. I was registered for the 50km Ultimate XC race up at Tremblant (today), so that's out, and Summer Solstice is out for next weekend. The cycling gods don't want me racing, but would rather have me gimping around and sitting in front of the computer lusting after stuff I can't afford.

So tomorrow, I'm gonna start some physio and get on the mend as quickly as I can. In the meantime, I'll probably have time to do some beer reviews!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peloton bike mag

Some time ago, actually a looooong time ago, back in December, I posted about Paved bike magazine, saying how much I liked it. I came across a newer issue not too long ago, but after a quick flip through it, it didn't look interesting enough to warrant a purchase....lots of pictures and ads, and not a lot of words. On the other hand, I have just picked up my third issue in a row of Peloton magazine, and I am absolutely digging this magazine. I've been thoroughly impressed with every issue to date (except issue #1, which I missed). The latest issue, (June-July, issue number 4) has an Italian theme to it, no doubt to coincide with the Giro (yes, I know it's now over). The legendary Fausto Coppi graces the cover, and articles range from Italian food and drink, to well known companies and the names behind those companies.

Issue #4

The Hotel Gran San Bernardo, an Italian hotel that caters to cyclists. From daily group rides, bike storage, a tailored restaurant menu and even babysitting! I think I know where I want to go for my next vacation...

I've never heard of John Eustice or the Gianni Motta squad, but they were the first American team to race the Giro d'Italia. Gotta love the pose and the 'stache.

An up close look at Sidi shoes.

Stunning pics.This picture accompanies an article about how Tulio Campagnolo was inspired to invent the quick release lever back in 1924 (and later patented it in 1930).

Issues #2 and #3.

Who doesn't love cross pics?

Issue #2. Profiling the greatest season ever in cycling. Eddy Merckx. 1972. 51 wins in 139 races. 'nuff said.

Issue #3. A whole article devoted to the Nevegal time trial stage of the 2011 Giro. I like how they take a single stage of the Giro and devote as much print to it as some publications would for the entire Giro.

Northwest Knee Warmers. A little company out of Oregon producing some fine embrocation. 

Although it is a magazine devoted to road biking (I usually prefer mountain bike magazines), I've been so impressed that I've gone ahead and ordered a subscription. I'm sure that future issues will be equally impressive.